When I decided to do a year of service at Maryhouse I thought it would be similar to my past jobs working with the homeless population. But, being a Mercy Volunteer at Maryhouse is unlike anything I have ever done before. Maryhouse and Loaves and Fishes as a whole is unlike any place I have ever been. Loaves and Fishes is a hub for the homeless population in Sacramento, and Maryhouse specifically serves homeless women and children. We provide daily showers, breakfast, toiletry items, and a variety of other services. Maryhouse is a team of nine women empowering and helping homeless women in Sacramento. I have over four years of experience working with people who are experiencing homelessness and arrogantly thought that working at Maryhouse would be just like all my other jobs working with this population. But I have grown more in these past six months working at Maryhouse than I did in four years working at my previous jobs.
The biggest way I have grown is that I look at service very differently than I did at the start of this year. At the beginning of this year, my thoughts about service were very simple – doing things for other people makes me happy so I am going to do a year of service because I enjoy doing things for other people. At the start of this year, I fell into the trap of doing service for myself, even though I was doing daily acts of service I was doing them to feel good, I was doing them for me, not the people I serve. But, Maryhouse has helped me totally change the way I view service.
Service is about more than doing something nice for someone else. Service means you are willing to put others first when it is not easy. Service should not be a selfish act or only something you do when it is convenient. I used to only help someone if I had the time, if it was an easy task, or if it had some sort of benefit for me. But, this year has taught me how to truly be a compassionate person. I have learned how to still have a heart for service even when I’m tired. Serving such a vulnerable population has ignited a fire I now cannot put out. Stepping back and putting others first has helped me see how important service and Mercy are in today’s world. I am excited for what the rest of the year brings and I can’t wait to see how much more I grow!
Annie Rasmussen: Sacramento, California